Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske may gamble with Springbok Sevens winger Rayno Benjamin in the midfield this weekend after Francois Venter was forced to return home.
According to the supersport.com website, Venter, who left the field in the 60-27 loss to the Hurricanes last week, has dislocated his shoulder and will head back to South Africa today, where he will see a specialist to determine the length he will be out of action.
And with their match against the Blues in Auckland the last game of their four week tour, Drotske has been forced to shuffle his plans for his match squad ahead of a tough match.
While he does have Griquas centre Howard Mnisi available to play, the impressive 12 hasn’t had any taste of Vodacom Super Rugby action yet, and word out of New Zealand is that he isn’t likely to geta chance at this stage of the tour.
It seems with the spectre of Ma’a Nonu returning, the Cheetahs are worried about defence and believe Benjamin will be a better option.
Venter’s midfield combination with Johan Sadie was just beginning to flourish when the injury came, and given that the Cheetahs have not won a game on tour, there is a certain desperation to head home on a high note.
Drotske will be hoping to exploit the fact the Blues returned from South Africa with losses to the Bulls and Lions, and have had to make the long trip across the Indian Ocean to get back home.
There is good news however on winger Raymond Rhule’s fitness, with his ankle recovering well and it is likely he will be ready to face the Blues this weekend.
Drotske has called up Francois Brummer, a flyhalf, in Venter’s place but it is unlikely he will be on the bench this weekend. Elgar Watts is set to keep his place on the bench with Riaan Smit struggling with a hamstring strain.